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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, July 20, 2003

Hawai'i hotel pool features create a splash

By Chris Oliver
Advertiser Travel Writer

Guests shoot the rapids on a river connecting nine pools at the Grand Wailea on Maui. Multiple slides include another with a three-story drop.

Grand Wailea Resort and Spa

Ka'anapali Beach ranked No. 1 this year in the America's Best Beaches list compiled by Stephen "Dr. Beach" Leatherman. But as beautiful as that beach is, the draw for many guests at its Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa is the sprawling lagoon and pools complex where you can swim, kayak and even, on select evenings, catch a movie on the resort's poolside big screen.

No longer just a cool-off and place to swim, pools at some Hawai'i resorts now include slides, fountains, Jacuzzis, waterfalls, swim-to bars, rope bridges, caves, grottoes and — at the Grand Wailea Resort & Spa — the world's only underwater elevator.

Here's a splash guide to four of Hawai'i's favorite aquatic retreats:

Hyatt Regency
Maui Resort & Spa

What's special about Hyatt Maui Pool? "Dive-in" movies, to start. The hotel has a weekly schedule showing on the big screen for guests to watch while floating in the pool. The half-acre tropical oasis also boasts a 150-foot lava tube water slide, lava rock pool bar and two additional pools with waterfalls connected by caves.

Hyatt added a children's adventure pool in December. Only 18 inches deep, the shallow pool is perfect for kids to wade past realistically painted turtles and dolphins and dart in and out of shooting fountains that spout as high as 10 feet. There's a 25-foot slide and a sand-covered island at the center of the pool — ideal for making sand castles. Reservations: (808) 661-1234, www.maui.hyatt.com.

Hyatt Regency
Kaua'i Resort & Spa

What's special about Hyatt Kaua'i's pool?

"Our pools are on two levels," said Katy Britzmann, director of the hotel's sales and marketing. "We have an upper pool connected to lower activity pool by a 150-foot water slide. The upper pool has a river segment that meanders through lava rock formations in a beautiful natural landscape. Also, there is a separate five-acre lagoon dotted with islands that you can kayak and float around."

Designed by Howard Fields, a water feature architect, the pools are environmentally friendly, using heat recycled from the air-conditioning system to warm the water to 86 degrees. Reservations: (808) 742-1234, www.kauai.hyatt.com

Hilton Waikoloa
Village, Big Island

Pools here include three for swimming and a three-acre salt-water lagoon open for water activities from snorkeling to kayaking. Designed and built by the Hemmeter Corp. and landscaped in the late 1980s, the property was acquired by Hilton in 1993.

The Kona Pool, largest of three freshwater pools, features a dramatic waterfall for swimmers to duck under, a 175-foot twisting water slide, three jacuzzis set in rocks and caves, a swinging bridge that crosses the oversized pool and a sandy-bottomed children's section that provides access. The area has statues of honu and other animals for the keiki to play on, and there's a popular water slide.

Five thousand gallons of salt-water are pumped through the system each minute.

Reservations: (808) 886-1234, www.HiltonWaikoloaVillage.com

Grand Wailea
Resort & Spa, Maui

Water is just one of the themes that designers had in mind when building the hotel, completed in 1991, said public relations director Nancie Brown (others include light, sound, flowers, trees and art). The Grand Wailea has nine interconnecting pools, including one reserved for adults, an activity pool with water slides, rapids, a rope swing and a special scuba pool.

Hibiscus Pool

Named for the giant flower that graces the bottom, made from thousands of pieces of Mexican glass mosaic tile, the pool is reserved for adults over 18 and has two jacuzzis.

Wailea Canyon Activity Pool

This 2,000-foot-long pool consists of nine free-form pools at six levels, beginning at 40 feet and dropping to sea level, connected by a river that carries swimmers along at varying speeds, from whitewater rapids to lazy currents.

Wailea Canyon includes four jungle pools, four fiberglass slides, a whitewater rapids slide, a Tarzan pool with rope swing, water elevator, sand beach, six waterfalls, caves, three Jacuzzis, a sauna, infant pool, and swim-up bar.

Just how big are those slides?

The Lava slide is 238 feet, with a three-story drop; the Ana Puka slide is115 feet with a 360-degree turn; and the Rapids slide features whitewater rapids at 16,000 gallons per minute. Reservations: (808) 875-1234, www.grandwailea.com